Summary: Jesus saw something in Thomas more than the doubts, fears and frustrations that Thomas had. Jesus called him because he saw a man who would have faith to the end.
One of the most misunderstood characters of the New Testament was an Apostle named Thomas Didymus, otherwise known as “doubting Thomas”.
We have all heard of “Doubting Thomas”, the disciple who refused to believe in the resurrected Lord until he saw Jesus and felt of the wounds in Jesus’ hands and feet. Thomas was a very practical person. He wasn’t easily convinced that things were as they appeared. Some might even say that he would have made a good citizen in Missouri, the “Show Me State” or that he had an attitude like a Missouri Mule. He seemed like the kind of man who would not accept anything at face value but had to prove everything.
I know a lot of people like that, don’t you? Some of them not only act like mules in their unmovable, stubbornness but they look like them too, with a long frown like they have been eating briars, or with their long ears, listening to catch every wind of gossip, or with their braying lips that announce to the whole world that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
But let’s not put down too hard on Thomas. After all, he is so much like many of us that it is uncanny.
Thomas was just going about his daily routine when his whole life was suddenly changed. Jesus walked up to him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called Thomas by name to come and follow him.
After having examined the attitude, heart and life of Thomas, there is no doubt that the words that Jesus spoke on that shore were very powerful and persuasive. Jesus had to only speak and call Thomas once and Thomas threw down his nets, never turned back and followed Jesus until the day that Thomas died.
What was there in Thomas’ life that brought Jesus to Galilee that day to call him out of the crowd? What did Jesus see in him that no one else could see? Let’s examine Thomas’ life and see if we can learn what Jesus looks for in a disciple!
Thomas was a twin. That’s what the surname “Didymus” meant, that he was a twin. As a twin it seems that Thomas didn’t even have a life all his own. He was probably always being mistaken for his twin and everyone would say how much alike he and his twin were or how much they acted alike. Was it the fact that Thomas was a twin that made Jesus call him out?
Thomas was also a champion pessimist. Some people look at a glass half full, but Thomas sees it half empty. He is a strong personality, full of fight and courage, but also has a streak of fatalism. He always saw the dark cloud but never the silver lining.
I have known a lot of people like Thomas. It seems that they can brighten up the atmosphere in the room just by walking out of the door. If you ask them how they are doing, they won’t hesitate to empty all their doubts, fears, troubles, trials and tests on you. If you felt good when you asked them, you certainly will feel bad before they are finished. People like Thomas have a negative attitude and see the worst in every situation. Most people don’t like to hang out with somebody like Thomas because it seems that a dark cloud with rain follows him wherever he goes.
Perhaps it was the fact that Thomas was such a negative person and needed a lot of guidance, was why Jesus called Thomas out of the crown. I wonder.
Thomas was also very impulsive. When Jesus called him there was no hesitation. He didn’t ask to go say goodbye to his family. He didn’t ask to stay long enough to sell off his fishing equipment. He didn’t even stay long enough to sell off his catch of fish. Thomas just dropped everything and walked off into the sunset, and into the pages of immortality, as a follower of Jesus.
Isn’t it great to find people who will leave all to follow Jesus? There aren’t many like him anymore. Perhaps it was that impulsive nature of Thomas that Jesus saw!
Let me give you a few examples of the kind of man that Thomas was.
When Jesus was got the news that his friend Lazarus was sick and then told his disciples that Lazarus was already dead, he told them that they would have to go down to Bethany to see Jesus’ friends.
Judea, where Bethany was located, wasn’t a very hospitable place for Jesus or his disciples. It had only been a short time since the religious mobs had tried to stone Jesus, and now he was going back into that same place again. Look at the attitude of Thomas in John 11:16, "Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him." Thomas just knew that this was the end for all of them.